Aleksandr Kolb: “We have prescribed happiness to Company values”
Aleksandr Kolb, CEO of Promodo, one of the founders and ideologists of Kharkiv IT Cluster. In Ukraine he is known not only as one of the best specialists in the field of internet marketing, but also as an initiative and socially conscious person ready to implement large-scale ideas. His conferences gather hundreds of experts, while his Company is rapidly growing and entering new markets. Read more to learn how Oleksandr achieved such results in our Kharkiv IT Celebrities category.
How did you establish your own business?
Actually I didn’t plan to establish such a large-scale business, everything happened, one can say, casually. The Company was officially registered in 2004, up to that moment it was in the process of formation. My two friends and I were drinking beer and thinking over an idea of launching our own business. At that time I worked at a bank, so I had access to the Internet – it was a great advantage then! We agreed to create a Company, although it could hardly be called a real business. We opened a website for selling web design services. When working night shift at the bank, I began to promote our site.
Later we realized that web design was not our strong point, however we did a good job with promotion. If we succeed in promotion services, why not sell them? That’s how Promodo Company was established. We were at the waterhead of Internet marketing. 2004 is the beginning of our conscious development. In 2008 I bought the Company, we moved into the building, we are located today.
What is the structure of business processes in your Company?
The market of Internet marketing is constantly changing, I cannot say that we have a stable position. Let me tell you a bit about myself: being Company CEO, I have totally moved beyond operational management, I am not engaged into sale, marketing or finance operations; I only deal with strategic marketing and defining development vectors.
About the team: with the increase of people in the Company, its business processes have been greatly changed. Now we have 6 production departments, namely: search engine marketing, search engine advertising (our main directions); usability, smm, e-mail marketing. We have gone back of linear sales planning and now we have people, responsible for the regions: for example, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Russia.
We are ready to come to any region which requires our service. The whole production is concentrated in Kharkiv City while sales departments are located at regional offices. We plan to detach project-management, but it shall be done very cautiously.
What was the most significant achievement of the Company in 2015?
I would point out that in 2015 we introduced a new control unit, namely team-leads, coming after tops and department heads. Therefore, it has formed a new vector – training the staff in leadership and communicative skills as well as other soft-skills required for leaders. For this gang we prescribe a clear career plan and fix the KPI, which shall have a beneficial effect on productivity increase.
How do you see your Company in 5 years?
It is a difficult question. Last year, we had a business plan; we were holding a strategic session, lasting six weeks. We explored the issue concerning our vision of the Company in 2017 and 2018. We were thinking on the way we were moving and whom we wanted to be going forward in 3-5 years. We have reached some understanding of the matter. And what is more, we concluded that it was impossible to predict Company activity going forward in 5 years :).
We have prescribed happiness to Company values. Happiness to work, happiness of employees, I am sure that we will follow this value to the very end. It’s difficult to say, whether we will move to other regions, or whether we will start the development of products. We did not look into the crystal ball. We have clearly formed the values. Our mission is that “We are the experts in the market of internet marketing”. I do not think that we will radically change our activity, but all things are possible!
Currently we have over 150 employees – it is a great team with its desires and difficulties. We have clear understanding on the things we will do within this year.
What do you think of Kharkiv as an IT-location?
We have chosen Kharkiv as the city for our development. There is a level of comfort, and there is a level of life. I understand that in European and American cities the latter is higher. It includes regulatory environment, security and safety of citizens as well as medicine.
Not only the level of life is important for me, but also the level of comfort – the place where my friends are, where I have the possibility of self-development. When following our ”Happiness” value – I cannot imagine me feeling comfortable somewhere in America. My friends are here, but not there, in addition, another mentality also takes its place.
Why did you join Kharkiv IT Cluster?
I have certain awareness that we are responsible for what is going on. It is not a secret that the war played a major role. The war has become some kind of discovery for many Ukrainians. Such notions as patriotism and national idea have appeared, people began to unite. Those, being out of politics and out of state have committed themselves to change things for the better. This is a powerful argument, which prompted us to join Kharkiv IT Cluster. We realized this it was high time to move from words to actions.
The second reason is a certainty, that Kharkiv is the place where I want to live and develop myself; that is why I strive to do a right thing for the society. This city gave me education and work, so I believe it is fair to leave something to the next generation – progressive and cool.